Comment

Life just got a little easier, and fairer, for renters.

Last week the Government banned letting fees for tenants. It's estimated the move will save Kiwi families up to $47 million a year.

Landlords had been able to charge tenants for services rendered by a letting agent. The problem is that those services were for the benefit of the landlord rather than the tenants - but the latter was expected to pay for it.

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Letting fees cover the cost of a property manager running tenant viewings and background checks and completing letting-related paperwork. Landlords can, of course, do this work themselves, but many choose to outsource it.

But that's their decision, and tenants, in my view, should not have been expected to pay for it.

Besides, renters already face a significant cost when they start their tenancy - four weeks rent as bond, one week in advance and, until now, one week as a letting fee. That equates to thousands of dollars and a significant burden for families who have to move houses if their tenancy comes to an end.

Just ask Toi Ohomai student Sacha Dustin about how difficult the rental market is. The second-year sport and recreation student has been looking for a rental property on and off for the past 12 months and has resorted to living in his father's warehouse.

He inquired about a rental property that was $550 a week and move-in costs were more than $3000 after a bond and advance rent payments were made.

The question now is who will cover the cost of letting services? Those in the industry predict it will ultimately fall on tenants through increased rental costs.

I hope that's not the case. If landlords decide to outsource the letting process, if it is easier for them to do so, then they should shoulder that cost. It's their choice after all.